(A final thought from No One Gets There Alone)
In giving helps for mental toughness, Dr. Bell says that consistency is the key.
Remember, we first create habits, then our habits create us.
Whatever we want to get better at, we must consistently do. Don’t mistake action for achievement. If we want to get better at swimming, then swim; if we want to get better at public speaking, speak. If we want to improve our sales, get a coach. Period.
Whenever I’ve led discussions about spiritual disciplines like prayer or taught on following the leading of the Holy Spirit, comments are always made about not feeling confident on how to do either of these. Let me suggest that Dr. Bell’s encouragement to swimmers and public speakers applies here. Create habits. Be consistent. Just Keep Doing It.
What could some habits be that would create you into a confident disciple?
- Pair up with another growth-desiring person. You could do this in many ways. Ask God to bring that person into your life. Be real with them and start pursuing growth together. Chances are that person is already in your life and you just need to take the first step.
- Develop your strategy. If you want to read the entire Bible, then find a reading plan that works for you. If it takes you one month, one year, or many years, who cares. Figure out your plan and start moving.
- Say hello to God often. What if you turned off the radio in the car going to or from work just to be alone with God? What if you paused midday to talk about your morning and your afternoon? What if you didn’t get out of bed before saying good morning? What if one day of your weekend you didn’t ask for anything in your prayers and just said thank you? What if you prayed as often as you texted your spouse or best friend?
- Test your nudges. It’s possible that thought about that person you rarely think about was a Holy Spirit prompt to reach out. It’s possible that thought to bake your neighbor some cookies was a Holy Spirit avenue to relieve loneliness. It’s possible that cry for sympathy by your waiter’s comment was a Holy Spirit opening to offer a prayer with them.
Here’s a personal example from a different life arena. By nature, I’m not a morning person. I hated my teenage years when my mother would come in my room every morning turning on the lights and declaring it was breakfast time. But you might say, since I began running over ten years ago, I’ve been recreated by developing new habits. The discipline needed to properly train for races has slightly altered me. I now have little problem getting out the door to run by 6am several times a week. I can even meet people at 6am for a group run and actually enjoy it, occasionally. Let’s not push it.
Who do you want to be? Who is God prompting you to be? What are the habits of that kind of person? Work to establish the habits of that person and let the creating begin.
Occasionally people inquire about what training plan I follow before a race. If you’re reading this post as a result of a Google search, then you have no doubt found many other plans to consider. The race distance you are preparing for certainly determines the plan you should follow. However, this plan pictured below (taken from Runner’s World) is the plan I like most and the one I modify based on the race distance.
This plan is for full marathon preparation, but I modify it for preparing for my half marathons. As you look over it, there may be reasons that this plan looks overwhelming, too much, or maybe undoable. Maybe this is your first half, like my friend who signed up to run with me in September. Maybe you don’t want to run six days a week. Maybe you’re trying to work in cross training. In order to help you modify it, here are some things I’m currently doing that is working for my prep for two halves this fall.
- I’m only running four days a week the first seven weeks. Weeks 8-13, I’ll probably throw in some extra runs.
- Two days a week I cross train. What works for me is a 30-minute stairmaster workout at a progressive pace finishing at the highest level of the workout. Each week I’m pushing the pace to set new workout results.
- I follow the speed and strength workout guidelines as suggested (on Thursday though, not Tuesday) but push the pace to reflect prep for the half versus the full.
- My modifications to the MP workout is to cut the distance in half and to run it on Sunday, not Thursday.
These are ideas that you can consider and also modify to fit your level. Feel free to message me with any thoughts or questions. I’d also encourage you to consult a running coach to get a full plan in place to reach your race goals.
Following a plan will benefit you tremendously. Figure yours out. Tweak it as needed. Enjoy the training. Celebrate your results.
I’d heard how nice the new trail is at Robinson Preserve, so I decided to check it out this morning. WOW! I believe I’ve found a new running home. Here’s a photo of my route so you can see how to get to this entrance off 9th.
Basically, turn left on 9th off 75th, just past King Middle, and drive to the end.
This trail is excellent for walking and running. The surface looks like packed mulch, several inches thick. It’s very easy on the lower body.
And apparently the wildlife like this part of the Preserve also. I came across this guy after he’d snagged breakfast.
NOTE: Restrooms are not at the large parking area. Keep going straight to find them. Look for this building.
You will enjoy this trail, whether it’s your first time in RB or you’ve been enjoying it a long time. Your options have been expanded. See you on the trail!
(Third and final entry for this post)
The first two entries talked about two ways to let God out of your box: don’t give up and stop believing lies. Read Nick’s quote again to see the third way.
Too often we tell ourselves we aren’t smart enough or attractive enough or talented enough to pursue our dreams. We buy into what others say about us, or we put restrictions on ourselves. What’s worse is that when we consider ourselves unworthy, we are putting limits on how God can work through us! When you give up on your dreams, you put God in a box.
As a long-distance runner, I often hear people say something like this after they hear about some race I’ve done or I’m preparing for: “I could never do that. You’re amazing.” If I were to bluntly respond what I’m thinking when they say that, it would be something like this: “That’s ridiculous. Of course you could. And by the way, amazing I am not.” This is a simple example of what we often do to God as well. We tell him what’s possible…so in the box he goes. The third way to let him out of your box is to do the opposite.
Resist Putting Limits
Nick said we put limits on how God can work through us. And this can have tragic consequences. Case in point: the Israelite spies in Canaan (read Exodus 13-14). Twelve went in to check it out. Ten said, “No go.” Two said, “We should go.” Forty years later, the ten got want they wanted and so did the two. God showed up for the two who resisted putting limits on him. They experienced what God can do through those who allow him to work through them (read Joshua 6,14).
So how can we resist our human nature and give God all the freedom in our lives he deserves?
- Foster a mindset of submission to daily prompts from God-“Sure, I’d be happy to ask my neighbor how I can pray for them. What else?”
- Keep your finger on the “yes” trigger when God comes with a big ask-“Yes, I’ll take a vacation week to go on a mission trip. And I’ll stay open to even moving my family to live there permanently.”
- Seek counsel from those we believe live submitted lives-“Can we have coffee soon? I’m needing some guidance on something God has challenged me to do.”
- Surround yourself with other “resisters”-“God, who should be in my corner? Holy Spirit, surround me with fellow resisters.”
In what area(s) of your life is God in your limit box? What could God do through you if you’d resist putting limits on him? Tell God, “I’m sorry for not giving you my ‘yes’ more quickly. I desire to experience what it’s like to give you full access. Show me what it’s like to let you out of my box.”
Almost 365 days ago, I ran an 11k in North Carolina on 1-1-17. Not a whole lot of those offered. So why did the race coordinators plan that? The mantra was do a little more, which I translated, push yourself. So instead of running traditional 5ks or 10ks, we did 6ks and 11ks. I wasn’t terribly excited that morning, though. Two days prior I had some ridiculous stomach virus unlike anything I’ve ever had. So without much energy I lined up at the start line. Thanks to good training and raw stubbornness I managed to finish first in my age group.
What I took away from that experience was the goal to do a little more throughout this year in my running. So in setting a total mileage goal for the year, instead of 1,000 I set the goal for 1,111. Happy to say I met that, and a little more (1,133).
In my blog entry on January 17, the word I set my mind on for 2017 was thrive, and for the most part I did. Being a numbers guy, here are a few of my stats:
- Completed 7 races: 5k, 10k, 11k, and four half marathons
- Checked off 6 states on the goal to running in all 50: AR, DE, IN, KY, NC, TN (Total stands at 15)
- Total miles for the year: 1,133 (For the last 9 months, mileage increased from prior month making December the highest total month for the year).
Looking into next year, my phrase is this-More of the Same. Here are my goals and current plans:
- Total mileage: 1,200
- Run an ultra marathon-(50k, 31 miles)
- Check off at least 3 more states-(my eyes are on MS, OH, PA)
Running may not be your thing. Whatever your thing is, how did 2017 go and what do you want to achieve in 2018?
It was a good month. A very good month. Memorable in many ways. I was asked Thursday what was the best highlight. I gave an answer, but I could give you a different answer if you asked me today.
Rather than do highlights, here is the end of my journal entry from 10/30:
The lessons I take away from this month are:
- Grace is so needed in this world. I need to give more of it.
- People are very lonely in this world. I can offer them hope through my obedience to serve and to give my time, talents, and respect.
- God has what people need in this world. They can find it through various methods-church, community, music, dance, family, books, new friendships, similar connections, and jobs where they can love people.
- There is much to be in awe of in this world. But it shouldn’t replace my awe for the one responsible for all of it.
For a bonus thought, I’ll share this note from my morning run today. In my first few miles, I wasn’t necessarily feeling it. I thought 7.5 may do it today, although I needed to do more. However, the more I ran the better my legs felt making me think double digit miles were possible after all (I was wearing Alabama socks…gotta be it). I ended up getting just over 10 done and felt good following. It reminded me of Sabbatical race #3 in Dover.
Here’s the deal: our minds are a tool. They can beat us up or tear us down. Controlling the self talk in our head determines if we’ll finish strong or finish at all.
Bottom line: Own Your Mind.
Photos to illustrate:
Following mile 1 in Dover. Thought: “How will these next 12 miles go?”
Finish Line in Dover. Thought: “Thanks, God. We owned those last miles.”
Yesterday morning at 7am around 400 runners gathered at the Dover International Speedway to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles.
2:00:04 later, I’d checked off state 15.
Last week a non-longdistancerunning friend asked me what I think about while running. So Mark, here’s a rewind as best I remember.
M1 This is cool, running on the speedway, but not ideal. Stay slow until we leave the track.
M2 10:04 was a little slow. Let’s pick it up. Pass the guy in the Bama hat and say, “Roll Tide.”
M3-5 This is a nice neighborhood. Check out these old houses. Feeling good. Decent pace. Keep it through 5.
M6 Almost half done. Overall pace 9:27. Push to drop that by at least a second every remaining mile. End goal, finish with 9:15 pace.
M7 There go the full marathoners. Now the mental game really kicks in. We’re not in the city anymore. Don’t let the pace slow because there aren’t as many runners around you. Stay with these two runners; they have a good pace.
M8 They slowed down, admitted they went out too fast. Move on. That millennial that just passed me will be the last person to pass me.
M9-10 Keep slowly picking off each of the group of five ahead. You might have a shot at catching the 2-hour group.
M11 These Alabama compression socks rock. This weather rocks. This course rocks. I can beat last weekend’s times. What is going on?
M12 Where is that 2-hour pacer? Oh, there he is. PUSH!
M13 No one told me the steepest hill was at the end. Get over it. Fly down the other side. You have done a negative split. I NEED ICE CREAM!
(There you have it. Below is the proof of states 13-15.)
I found the Iron Horse Half Marathon race online. It is slated as a top destination race by Runner’s World. I now know why.
Midway, Kentucky isn’t far from downtown Lexington. Population, less than 2000. They may have as many horses. And this morning, it seemed about half the town was running the race.
The course really was picturesque. If you are a horselover and a runner, you should schedule this race. Be advised, it’s hilly. But you’ll be glad you did it. You feel like you are spending the morning on the horse farm. Very unique setting.
As for my “performance,” this was a test. How would I do running two halves back to back? How prepared was I? Would I manage myself well before, during, and after both races?
I give myself a 90%. Surprisingly my thighs are worse off than my calves. I’ll take these two results happily and move on to State #15, possibly this next Saturday. Stay tuned
Almost 1,600 of us converged on the streets of Evansville, Indiana, at 7amCST to run 13.1 miles. I finished in 2:03:31. Pleased with that.
Everything about this race was done very well.
- Packet pickup was easy to find and speedy. (We got buckets along with our goodie bags…still not sure why)
- Race parking was a breeze-plenty of it, and I unknowingly parked one block from the start line. Unheard of.
- The course was mostly flat-perfect for Floridians. It weaved nicely through neighborhoods and parks.
- The community presence was great. Very few areas weren’t covered with spectators, volunteers, first aid, or policemen.
- Plenty of encouragement and refreshments at the finish line. Shout out to the announcer for calling out “John Gregory from Bradenton, Florida” repeatedly until the crowd cheered.
- If I weren’t running again in the morning, I probably could have pushed to get under 2 hours. Good to know.
- My pace stayed pretty steady through 10M. 57-degree start had a lot to do with that.
- I surprised myself being able to pick up the pace the last half mile. Assimilating that on the treadmill pays off.
- Shout out to Holly and another young lady who unknowingly paced me from miles 9-11. Strong job, Ladies.
- State 13 done. On to 14 tomorrow. (Bucket list item: run a race in every state)
It’s been two weeks since Irma. Much continues to happen around the world with natural disasters. In our town, we haven’t had to deal with the devastation of other places. Regardless of how impactful the storm, one thing is true for anyone living in a post-storm world: things aren’t normal. Normal has been replaced, if not permanently, at least temporarily.
This was clear the first day I went for a run. It was Tuesday morning, not much longer than 24 hours post-storm.
As odd as it sounds, I literally had to tell myself that it was okay to go for a run. I’m sure to many it would have been the furtherest thing from their mind. To me, it was what I should do. It is my routine, and I should do it even if I didn’t want to or questioned if I should.
I did a 5.7-mile route through West Bradenton. A little darker than usual, even for early morning hours. Darkened street lights, humming generators, and impassable sidewalks were obstacles to my normal carefree run. Watching traffic on Cortez Road between 51st and 75th was interesting; actually on this entire route it was. Non-working traffic lights (5 out of 9) were catching many drivers offguard. They were having to pay more attention because routine was broken.
When routine is broken, when there are obstacles in life to doing what we are accustomed to doing, it can be quite jolting, to some life-altering. All of these things I noticed on my run were simple examples of obstacles that post-storm living presents. And if you allow them to, these obstacles can appear overwhelming and unnavigable. They can appear to be.
If the appearance grips us with fear, we would do well to step back and let our brains catch up to our emotions. Our brains can help us see…
- …taking a shower by flashlight is doable.
- …if you don’t know how to do something, most likely you know someone who does.
- …a new routine will take more time…so leave earlier for work, allow more grace to other drivers, and expect the unexpected.
- …the obstacle may not be addressable in the desired timeframe. That’s okay. Give time to yourself and to others to get it addressed in a safe and wise manner.
- …obstacles don’t automatically mean you can’t do your thing. They may just cause you to have to figure out a different way.
- …like many pre-storm days, the best motivation is self-motivation. Sometimes you have to be your own generator.